Russian fleet sails to Venezuela
In yet another display of military might aimed at regaining its former status as a global superpower, the Russian government announced that a fleet of ships has set sail to Caracas, Venezuela. The fleet will be led by the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Peter the Great, but it's unclear how many ships will join it. The naval exercise is also intended as a show of support to President Hugo Chavez, who has been keeping up the diplomatic pressure on the United States recently, and is heavily involved with the radical governments in Ecuador and Bolivia. In addition, "Two Russian bombers arrived in Venezuela last week for training flights." Russian oil firms are also exploring investment options in Venezuela, and it all adds up to a multi-front strategic offensive by Moscow. See BBC and CNN.com.
Is this 1962 all over again -- a precursor to another Cuban Missile Crisis? Probably not, but it should remind us of the recent adverse shifts in the global balance of power, and the precarious state of the geopolitical situation right now. Russia has been selling large amounts of military equipment to Venezuela in recent years (see, for example, June 2006), including fighter jets, helicopters, and huge numbers of small arms, presumably intended for guerrilla forces in neighboring countries. Talks about purchases of armored vehicles are underway as well. To deal with this threat to regional peace and stability, the United States will have to devote more of its scarce military and strategic resources to the Western Hemisphere, making the ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq more difficult to sustain.